As evening approaches each day, I pay Tim a visit in the office to ask if he has any ideas for dinner. His answer is almost always, “I don’t know.” (And if he does have a suggestion, it’s usually fajitas, macaroni and cheese, or nachos.)
So… we’re terrible at planning meals. I would love it if someone gave me a list of dinner ideas and tasked me with choosing the recipes, shopping for groceries, and cooking the food. I thoroughly enjoy cooking and am happy to make dinner — it’s just the initial brainstorming that stumps me. If anyone knows of a great blog or website that offers weekly menus, please let me know.
So in case any of you are in the same boat, I thought I’d share my list of what we’ve been eating lately:
- Grilled Salmon with Crunchy Sweet Mustard Vinaigrette: Loved this vinaigrette. Bobby Flay is my favorite.
- Spinach, Mushroom, and Ricotta Stuffed Shells: This is my new go-to shells recipe. The ricotta filling is super smooth and creamy.
- Grilled Veggie and Goat Cheese Pitas: I sautéd the veggies in the oil/balsamic mixture, and they were amazing with the goat cheese.
- Roasted Veggie and Black Bean Burritos: I can’t get enough of these — the roasted veggies are perfection. I didn’t have a jalepeno, but I followed the rest of the recipe pretty closely.
- Braided Reubens: This was a fun change from our usual dinners. It could use a lot more filling than what’s called for. Tim suggested adding a Reuben-appropriate dressing next time.
- Whole Wheat Crepes with Honey Cream Cheese: These were great for Sunday pre-church brunch. They didn’t taste wheaty at all and were lovely with strawberries and bananas inside.
- Martha’s Bean Burritos: I suppose most people don’t need a recipe for bean burritos… but sometimes I do. For this recipe, I upped the rice, added chipotle chiles in adobo sauce instead of jalapenos, and added cayenne and chili pepper. I mixed everything together to stuff the burritos.
- Mushroom Risotto: This recipe will knock your socks off. I didn’t use dried mushrooms (just extra fresh) and I also left out the truffle oil. Divine.
- Summer Vegetable Tostadas: We’ve made these on a few occasions, and I love ’em every time. The recipe calls for chicken, but I leave it out since we go meatless most nights. We add a little more heat than the recipe calls for.
- California BLT with Avocado and Basil Mayonnaise: Avocados have been around $0.60 apiece at Costco lately, so we’ve been downing them like crazy. I’m just waiting for Costco to start selling nitrate-free bacon so I can quit buying small packages at TJ’s that disappear much too quickly. The basil mayo in this recipe is really fun.
- Fried Rice: Fried rice is another dish that probably doesn’t necessitate a recipe. But sometimes I need reminders on fried rice essentials, like using cold rice. We usually leave out the meat and add carrots, mushrooms, peppers, snow peas, etc. And I don’t add water to the soy sauce like it suggests.
- Roast Chicken with Balsamic Peppers: I only started liking peppers a few years ago, and now I love them. I double the peppers for this super easy recipe.
- Arugula Pesto: Tim and I go back and forth about whether we like regular (basil) pesto or this version better. The conclusion is that we love both. I use considerably less garlic than she calls for in this recipe.
- Sausage and Brie Sandwiches with Red Pepper Coulis: I’ve had a few packs of chicken/apple sausages in my freezer for awhile, and this was a perfect way to use them. The coulis didn’t have a strong enough red pepper taste for my liking, so next time I’ll cut back on the other ingredients. Love the brie with the sausage.
- Roasted Butternut Squash Pizza with Caramelized Onions: If I could only eat one type of pizza for the rest of my life, this would be it. We use the Cook’s Illustrated pizza dough recipe.
- Ina’s Mac and Cheese: I use an apple-smoked Gruyere for this (plus cheddar) and it’s perfection. I leave out the tomatoes and use homemade wheat breadcrumbs instead of white. And no butter on top — the breadcrumbs do just fine without it. And my figure is better off without it.
Oh, did you want a few side dish and dessert ideas, too?
- Ina’s Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette: We got a little squashed out after too many rounds of butternut. We had to quit using it in main dishes, but this salad is wonderful.
- Bacon Wrapped Dates with Almonds: I whipped these up for my monthly gourmet group dinner a few weeks ago and I want to make them again and again. There are few better things in life than bacon and goat cheese and dates.
- Roasted Zucchini with Garlic: We cook most of our vegetables the same way — olive oil, salt, and pepper (or Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Salt), roasted at 400°. This recipe has the addition of garlic, and we make it a lot.
- Balsamic Strawberries with Ricotta Cream: I used an amazing dark chocolate balsamic vinegar for this, and it made for a perfect, light dessert. I think next time I’ll use these strawberries over ice cream.
- Salted Caramel Brownies: Oh man. These brownies are just incredible. And I want to eat them every day. (And we did eat them every day for about a week.)
- Lemon Bars: Every time I make lemon bars I wonder if I should branch out and try a new recipe or stick with the classic Ina. Ina always wins. Although, she likes sugar a little too much — you really only need two cups of it in the lemon mixture instead of the three she calls for.
And now it’s 4:15 p.m. and I’m out of dinner ideas. I think we’ll order Thai.